NASA Ames Field Wants to Develop 45 Acres into Housing

National Aeronautics and Space Administration, U.S. General Services Administration, NASA Ames Research Center, Silicon Valley, Planetary Ventures,

By Michele Chandler

The National Aeronautics and Space Administration and the U.S. General Services Administration are looking for a company to plan, finance and develop a significant residential community at the NASA Ames Research Center at Moffett Field that includes affordable housing.

The 45-acre development, proposed for Mountain View alongside U.S. Highway 101 at Ellis Street, would include a minimum of 1,930 rental units and 100,000 square feet of retail and services, according to the RFP released by NASA on Oct. 18.

At least 10 percent of those rentals “will be made available to those who work or go to school on the Ames Campus and NASA Ames Property at rates affordable to low-income households as defined by Santa Clara County,” the document says. Each phase of housing construction must include a minimum of 10 percent affordable units, according to the RFP.

All proposals for the development are due by Feb. 9. Tours of the property for interested parties began on October 24 and will end on November 17.

The city has no official influence on the development, because the property is on federal land. Federal agencies have what’s known as “sovereign immunity,” which makes development on their land exempt from local zoning ordinances.

However, “One of the things we’re going to express to NASA is that because of the dire need for affordable housing in Silicon Valley, we’re hoping they will up that percentage to something like maybe 25 percent below market-rate units instead of 10 percent,” said Dennis Drennan, real property manager for the City of Mountain View.

Nearly 5,000 people could live in the new complex planned to be built under a long-term ground lease with NASA.

The agencies expect a ground lease and development agreement to be finalized by the fall of 2018, with construction on the first rental units starting no later than 2021. Construction of all the rental units is expected to be completed by 2028, according to the RFP.

Drennan called that schedule “ambitious,” as the agencies must “evaluate proposals, negotiate leases, probably [reach] some kind of disposition development agreement and get all the planning and construction put together and reviewed by NASA.”

The development site also contains approximately 425,000 square feet of existing structures that require demolition, the government’s document said.

“The Army is currently in the evaluation stage of the source selection. Information will not be released regarding number of proposals received or identities of those who made proposals,” said U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Public Affairs Specialist Raini Bruson in an email. “At this point, I don’t have a timeline for when the evaluation stage will be complete, nor when we’ll be able to release more information.”

NASA Ames’ neighbors include two of Silicon Valley’s most prominent corporate campus developments—Shoreline Business Park in Mountain View and Moffett Business Park in Sunnyvale. Corporate tenants located nearby NASA Ames include Lockheed Martin, Juniper Networks, LinkedIn, Microsoft, Facebook, Google and Apple.

NASA Ames has more than 50 partners on site, while others are planning to construct facilities there during the next few years, the RFP said, with total space leased to date comprising approximately 3 million square feet.

Education facilities on the Moffett site include Carnegie Mellon University, tech innovation incubator Singularity Education Group and Santa Clara University’s Center for Robotic Exploration, which it formed in partnership with NASA Ames.

In addition to NASA’s proposal request, an earlier RFP from the Department of the Army involves land near Moffett Field.

Planetary Ventures, LLC, a subsidiary of Alphabet-owned Google, has two long-term leases with NASA. One is for 42 acres of undeveloped land in the Bay View area where Google has rights to build 1.2 million square feet of office/R&D and mixed-use facilities. Construction of the facilities and other infrastructure for the project is underway.

Its second long-term lease is for the 1,000-acre Moffett Federal Airfield, including historic Hangars 1, 2 and 3 and the Golf Course. The Army said it was seeking proposals from private, public or not-for-profit entities that are interested in an Enhanced Use Lease of the Army-owned land at 230 RT Jones Road. That land tract is the former Orion Park housing area and also comprises a portion of the SGT James Witkowski Armed Forces Reserve Center.

The Army’s RFP says that permitted developments could include commercial office and related uses, including education or training facilities. The lease would be executed from a term of up to 50 years, with one 25-year renewal option.

The deadline for RFP submissions for the Army’s project was Oct. 21 and right now, the government is going through what they call a “source selection process” for the Army property, said Drennan. “They don’t want to tell you how many proposals they got, or who they got them from. If they have anybody to negotiate with—we don’t even know that at this point,” he said.

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